Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An open letter to businesses and content creators.

Dear businesses and content creators,

Please stop relying on stock photography to represent you.

It may be cheap but so is the effect. It's often pristine but plastic and if clients and customers can't see or feel the tie-in to you, the images leave a bland aftertaste. Bland doesn't connect (in a good way), bland doesn't represent you well either. People crave real. Idealized, sure, but real.

I see so many articles, print materials, and websites that use beautiful shiny images of people beaming but there is no appreciable tie-in to that particular business. The connection isn't there and when the customer/client sees the disparity between those images and the reality, it leaves you looking deceitful. That's never a good thing.

There are quite reasonable and good uses for stock images of course, but be careful how and when you use them. If you need to simply describe an area, object, or occupation and it's an internal memo or school project, grab some stock. If you're creating actual promotional materials, manuals, or social media content, hire a photographer to create quality images that are also real. Authenticity is key and people appreciate being able to relate, connect, and recognize what they see.

Yes, photographers are more expensive, but you get more.

The images can be used not only for promotion but for record. You can touch things up but also have photographic evidence of the flaws and that can help you self-analyze and improve. If you're not willing to do that then you probably shouldn't be in business. Hiring a photographer for your business allows interaction and customization you won't get with a stock image. You get the benefit of their experience, you get someone to bounce ideas off of, and you get to support another business that will likely help promote you as they promote their work. When you calculate expense, factor in all the costs and consider all the added value.

There are far more than enough our there that just want to put out 100% idealized images that transcend reality while their core is hollow. It will be found out. Why not position yourself to bridge the ideal and the true. Show ideal in a real setting. Show ideal with your own people. Just don't show some other ideal and pawn it off as your own. I want better for you and I hope you do too!